» Posts Tagged ‘lenses’

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12 Years a SlaveOf the many excellent films to hit theaters last year, few were as powerful (or as well shot) as the Best Picture Oscar winner, 12 Years A Slave. It’s one of those rare films that transcends its utterly brutal subject matter and makes a powerful statement about the resiliency of the human spirit. Although much of that power is derived from terrific acting and direction, Sean Bobbitt’s masterful cinematography plays a critical role in allowing the emotionality of the story and its characters to emanate from the screen. In a pair of excellent interviews with Cinefii and Time LightBox, Bobbitt explains not only how he managed to craft such a gorgeous film, but also his theories behind portraying violence through film, working with Steve McQueen, and much, much more. Stick with us for a crash course in dramatic cinematography. More »

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Cooke AnamorphicsMany cinematographers love the look of anamorphic lenses. Many others are quite fond of Cooke Optics because of their distinctively warm and creamy aesthetic, lovingly known as the “Cooke Look.” Imagine the delight of cinematographers all over the world when Cooke announced during last year’s NAB that a brand new line of high-end anamorphic cinema lenses was in the works. Pure elation. Now we’ve got some of the first test shots to surface from these world-class anamorphic lenses, and the results are just what you’d expect, optical excellence and pure cinematic beauty. More »

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Zeiss OtusIn 2012, Zeiss announced that a brand new stills lens was in the works, one that would achieve perfection in optical performance through a no-compromise approach. Fast forward to November of 2013, and the company released the Otus 1.4/55, a prime lens that truly is uncompromising in all aspects of its design. While many of us are familiar with the Zeiss ZE glass for video work (great lenses), we have yet to see how the Otus would fare in a video setting. Luckily, filmmaker August Bradley managed to get his hands on an early pre-release version of the Otus, and he shot a delightful little concept piece called Zoetrope Optika that truly showcases the flawless performance of this marvelous lens. More »

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s16 F55In late 2013, Sony released version 3.0 of the firmware for their F5 and F55 cameras. This update added a veritable plethora of new features for these two cameras, including internal 4K and more options in regards to high frame rate shooting. However, one of the most interesting features of the update was the addition of what Sony calls “Center Scan Mode” which essentially crops the sensor in order to allow native use of lenses with a smaller image circle than s35, chiefly older s16 lenses. In another informative “At The Bench” video from AbelCine, Andy Shipsides breaks down everything you need to know about Center Scan Mode on the F55. Check it out. More »

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anamorphotWhen Letus announced their $1,700 anamorphic adapter, the AnamorphX, back in September, many of us were still waiting patiently for official news on SLR Magic’s answer to anamorphic shooting. That news came yesterday with the official announcement of their Anamorphot 1.33x 50. Originally pricing it to be around $1,500, SLR Magic has managed to keep the price point of the Anamorphot conducive to independent filmmakers, offering the adapter for $899. SLR Magic is currently taking pre-orders, but only until February 14th, after which the adapter (as well as their 77mm Achromatic Diopter set) will officially go on sale sometime in April. Continue on for more details. More »

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sundance logo 2014Sundance is over – the winners have been announced and filmmakers of all types are leaving the small town of Park City in droves — however, for many, things are just beginning. This festival has a way of inspiring young filmmakers to jump out of their seats and grab their cameras, but probably the biggest question that’s asked in the very beginning is, “What camera should I buy?” One way to answer that is to find out what pros are using on projects that closely resemble yours, which is why this list, compiled by Indiewire, of the cameras used by this year’s Sundance Film Festival filmmakers is an excellent resource in learning our (future) peers and colleagues’ approach to filmmaking. Continue on for the full list of cameras. More »

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OscarsWe all know that being a filmmaker means a lot more than having an awesome camera. However — it doesn’t hurt. But, how exactly do we gauge the awesomeness of cameras on the market? Well, that depends on your personal definition, but one way would be to look at what the Oscar-nominated filmmakers of 2014 used on their films. Setlife Magazine has shared a trove of technical specifications for the nominated films, including which cameras, lenses, film/digital negatives and prints were used, but let’s just say — one camera maker swept up nice and clean. Find out which one after the jump. More »

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Canon CES 2014 Lens InternalsWhile Sony introduced a lower-cost consumer 4K camera, and Panasonic showed their own 4K solution within the GH camera line, Canon was relatively quiet at CES 2014. What they did show, however, was a fascinating look at the internals of their lenses, more specifically the new STM lenses designed to be used for both video and stills. We’ve also got another showing off STM technology, and a slightly dated making-of for Canon’s over-$10,000 500mm lens. More »

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A057C003_120515_R2C5.0137578.tifIt seems as though people can’t stop talking about Spike Jonze’s newest movie Her — and rightfully so. The film’s story overflows with a certain humanity and honesty that may be expected from Jonze, but not as much from a contemporary love story. With such a great narrative, the visual storytelling should certainly echo its sentiments — a task given to cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who has worked on films such as Let the Right One InThe Fighterand Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy. In an in-depth piece, the International Cinematographers Guild plunges head first into the beautifully lonely world of Her and asks Van Hoytema how he built it. More »

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Letus 1.33X Anamorphic GoPro HERO3 PlusSome of you might already be asking why anyone would want this, but really you should be asking why this didn’t happen sooner. All joking aside, there are some cool side effects and very real benefits to this new GoPro 1.33X Anamorphic Adapter from Letus. They’ve already introduced an adapter for DSLRs and other large sensor cameras, and now they’re taking things to the miniature level with the new AnamorphX-GP, which will essentially turn your 16:9 GoPro footage into a much wider 2.39 aspect ratio with a simple de-squeeze in post. Check out more below. More »

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Leica 1Earlier in the year, we covered the announcement of a brand-spanking new set of high-end cinema lenses from Leica. Most of us know about, or have at least heard about Leica’s Summilux-C primes, which might very well be the finest cinema lenses known to man. The only caveat to the Summilux line is that you would have to sell a kidney (and maybe some other vital organs) in order to afford a set of your own. Leica’s new line of cinema lenses, the Summicron-C Primes, look to offer the same unmatched optical quality of their bigger brothers in a much smaller and slightly more affordable package. Oh, and they’re going to start shipping any day now. More »

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Lens DiffusionDiffusion is one of the most subtle, yet powerful tools that cinematographers have at their disposal. Certain types of diffusion allows you to accomplish multiple things. You can soften images to create an intimate and alluring aesthetic. You can cause your highlights to bloom which can make for a more glamorous or angelic look. And while there are multiple types of camera diffusion on the market, one of the most unique and effective solutions is actually the most inexpensive. Stockings, the kind that lady-folk wear, can be attached to the rear of any lens to create some extraordinary diffusion effects. Here’s the why and how of achieving this unique aesthetic. More »

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RED 3 Axis Wireless Lens ControlWhatever your opinion of the company might be, RED makes some absolutely fantastic products. From their line of ever-improving camera systems (which have become fairly ubiquitous in the industry), to the plethora of unique accessories that have been made specifically to augment and enhance their cameras, the folks at RED are never satisfied with the status quo. On Friday, RED introduced a new piece of equipment that is sure to find its way into the hands of many professional filmmakers. Introducing the RED 3-Axis Lens Control System, perhaps one of the most versatile wireless lens controllers ever created. Check out the details below: More »

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Metabones_spnfg-bmpcc-bm1_03sThis year a company called Metabones released the Speed Booster, an adapter which makes lenses faster, wider, and sharper as long as they were designed for a larger format than the format you’re currently working with. They already introduced adapters for Micro 4/3 cameras like the GH3, but now they’ve created new Nikon mount Speed Boosters designed specifically for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera that make lenses on those bodies even faster and wider, and give the Super 16mm Pocket essentially a Super 35mm sensor. More »

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Rokinon Cine Lens Kit 24mm-35mm-85mmThe Samyang/Rokinon lenses are about the cheapest cine-style lenses in existence (and most of them cover full-frame 35mm), which means both the iris and the focus rings have gears for a follow focus, and the iris is measured in T-stops, and is smooth so you can ramp exposure during a shot if necessary. For example, if you’re starting a shot inside and need to go outside, or if a cloud goes behind the sun right in the middle of shooting, you can change exposure. There are many reasons you’d want cine lenses, but until these lenses they were just not affordable in any way — and now they’re even cheaper. More »

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Panavision Primo VIn the past few weeks we’ve talked multiple times about high-end cinema lenses. First, we shared a brief comparison of the Zeiss Compact Zooms and Arri-Zeiss Ultra/Master Primes. Then last week, we talked about Cooke lenses and why the “Cooke Look” is so desirable to filmmakers. However, there’s one major brand of high-end cinema lenses that hasn’t gotten much NFS love yet, and that brand is Panavision. That trend is about to change, though, because Panavision just released their Primo V series of lenses, which just so happen to be the first cinema lenses designed specifically for large sensor, high-resolution digital cinema cameras. Read on to see what these lenses are all about. More »

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MidnightCoiterieI’m pretty sure that just as this amusing little trailer satirizing the iconic style of director Wes Anderson was made available to the public, filmmakers were asking, “How did they do that?” Many have tried to replicate Anderson’s aesthetic — and many have failed. So, what did the filmmakers of the SNL spoof trailer, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intrudersdo in order to capture Anderson’s signature cinematic sensibilities? Alex Buono, SNL’s DP, explains just how they did it. More »

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Cooke LensLenses are often one of the more subtle choices that the cinematographer makes when determining the look of a film. Usually things like camera (or film stock) and lighting take precedence over lenses. However, what many people don’t realize is just how powerful an effect certain lenses can have on the final image of a film, no matter how subtle or subconsciously appealing the look may be. Cooke lenses, for example, are known worldwide for their distinctive look. But what exactly is the “Cooke look”? Where does it come from, and why would you want it on your next project? Stick with us to find out: More »

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cinematographer

Cinematography is the art of making informed visual decisions in the pursuit of telling a story. After breaking down your script for emotionality, subtext, and character arcs, you can begin making informed visual decisions in the process of building what I call the “cinematographic visual concept”. This document (or series of documents) lays out, in specific terms, your plan for conveying the subtextual and emotional overtones of the story, using the cinematographic tools of lighting and camera. In today’s post, we’ll talk about how to take subtext and turn it into an informed strategy for using the camera to its full storytelling potential: More »

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AbelCine Arri-Zeiss ComparisonOne of the important characteristics of a set of cinema-style lenses is that each and every lens in the set is manufactured to have the same visual characteristics. They should each maintain a certain level of sharpness and render colors and contrast in the same way as the other lenses in the set. However, it’s often necessary to use more than one set of lenses on a production, and in those cases it’s important to know the visual similarities and differences between the lenses. In AbelCine’s look at Zeiss’s new Compact Zoom cinema lenses, they compared them to the famed Arri-Zeiss Ultra Primes and Master Primes. Here are the results: More »